Section headings – accessibility for web writers

Use headings to organise the sections or topics within an article or document. Headings break content into more manageable chunks, making a page or topic easier to understand.

Benefits of using headings

No one wants to be confronted by a wall of text on a web page. Headings help break up text and act as useful signposts to each part of the content on your page.

For people with disabilities, headings are vital. People who:

  • listen to content using a screen reader, can listen first to the  headings. This can help them understand the content structure, and find the part of the content they’re looking for.
  • use screen magnifiers rely on headings to orient themselves to a page.
  • struggle to read, will be overwhelmed if content isn’t broken up and labelled with headings.

You can still use visual elements (boxes, lines and so on) to break up walls of text, but you can’t rely on them as they will not be accessible to all users.

If you’re publishing content written by others (policies or media releases, for example), you may not be able to add section headings. But it is a good practice to do so whenever you can. Many blog posts would e improved if the writer used section headings to label each part of their article.

How to use headings well

  • Label all the key sections or messages in your content with a heading
  • Try to include a heading every few paragraphs
  • Avoid pages with no sub-headings

We discussed two other guidelines related to headings earlier in this series.  See:

References

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